If, like me, you find it almost intolerably depressing that Slinky should have any chance at all of becoming President, here are two essays that will help cheer you up:
Matt Barreto argues that national polls tend to under-sample and mis-question Latino voters (accounting, for example, for Harry Reid’s surprise victory in 2010). Polls done specifically of Hispanics, with appropriate techniques, consistently show show huge margins (>2:1) for Obama, while his reported leads among Latinos in the broader surveys tend to be much smaller. Adding to that structurally similar, though less pronounced, errors in predicting the black vote, Barreto finds a Romney bias of 5-6 points in current polling, suggesting that Obama’s actual margin this year could be comparable to his margin in 2008. (Cue wingnut heads exploding.)
On the age front, with a strong Republican age-gradient, Nick Gourveitch argues that, for various reasons, polls may be under-sampling younger voters (or improperly treating them as not “likely voters”). He doesn’t provide any numerical estimate, but this seems likely to be another source of noticeable Romney bias.
A ground game can’t rescue a candidate who simply doesn’t have the votes. But virtually all the surveys put Obama ahead among registered voters. And what is by all accounts an even stronger ground game than four years ago ought to allow him to translate some of that advantage into votes: not just on election day, but in early voting.
The contrast between the optimism of Republicans and the pessimism of Democrats is astounding, and not helpful to the good cause. This doesn’t argue for complacency, but for the confidence that generates the last dose of extra effort. “Do not despair; one of the thieves was saved. Do not presume; one of the thieves was damned.”